Ogilvy to Handle Campaign as Agency darkGrey Is Put 'On Hold'

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Internet networking giant Cisco Systems is in the process of preparing an anticipated $200 million branding campaign, executives involved in the process said.

Cisco's campaign was under development by darkGrey, the San Francisco-based tech unit of Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, which was selected earlier this year after a lengthy review. But in July, Cicso brought over a former IBM executive who had ties to the New York office of WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, which is now working on the campaign through Ogilvy's Culver City, Calif., office.

'On hold'
DarkGrey, meanwhile,

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was told it was "put on hold," executives familiar with the situation said.

Cisco did not respond to request for comment on the campaign or agency status.

Agency executives who follow the technology sector anticipate no conflict between Cisco and IBM, given the close partnership between the two companies, with Cicso products recommended for use with IBM equipment.

Grey, San Francisco, with about 60 employees, is contemplating its next staffing moves. Currently, the office's key account is Oracle Corp., the database software marketer. Oracle spent $29.7 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2001, and $8.3 million from January to May this year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Another agency being affected by the mercurial fortunes of Silicon Valley is WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson/Tonic, San Francisco, which is believed to be on the hook on the Sun Microsystems account.

Shifting strategies
Cisco's campaign further signals a shift by leading tech companies to return to brand advertising. Software behemoth Microsoft Corp. is working on its own global brand effort from its advertising agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco. Microsoft's campaign will focus on its "softer" side, as outlined by CEO Steve Ballmer, and is expected to incorporate the words "potential" and "passion." Two tag lines thought to be under consideration include "Your potential. Our passion," and "Your potential is our passion."

Hewlett-Packard, meanwhile, is also planning to relaunch as the new HP following its stormy merger with Compaq Computer Corp.

the stage is now set for a battle for the perceived leadership role in the technology category, a battle close to the hearts of Silicon Valley fathers.

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